Well this issue has come up again on another project and I want to set the record straight! What exactly am I talking about? The proper numbering of new additional scenes after the script has been locked.
First some background. The job of numbering scenes in a script ultimately falls to the Assistant Director, although in the early stages of production often the Line Producer or UPM will initially number the scenes.
In the first “locked” WHITE production draft of the script the numbering concept is easy. The numbers run in order: Scene 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on. Makes sense.
But at some point there will be a rewrite. The studio, director and writer will make changes to the script to address creative and production needs. After the WHITE draft then, there is a new colored draft of the script – depending on which studio you are working for (and/or if you are working in Television) – it will either be the BLUE draft or the PINK draft. (There is actual disagreement over this). For my purposes here, I will assume BLUE is the second production draft. And by BLUE, I mean that the CHANGED new-pages are copied on BLUE paper.
Thus, it’s called the BLUE production draft.
So now the crew, which has a WHITE script, gets distributed to them ONLY the CHANGED pages copied on BLUE paper, and, lets say page 3 was changed, so the crew removes WHITE page 3 from their script, and replaces it with a new page 3 that is on BLUE paper and so on. There is a new title page copied onto BLUE paper too.
This is done for both cost and efficiency. Remember on a movie crew, you may have distributed 75 WHITE copies of the script to the crew. 75 copies x 120 pages = 9000 pages. You don’t want to discard those 9000 pages, so you keep all the unchanged WHITE pages the crew is already using and simply swap out the new pages. This allows the crew to keep as many of the notes that they have written in the existing WHITE script as possible.
But here’s where it becomes complicated. Let’s say that on page 3 of the WHITE draft, there is Scene 7, which in the WHITE draft finished at the bottom of page 3. The top of page 4 starts Scene 8 (in the WHITE draft). In the BLUE revision, the writer added some new dialog to Scene 7, which cause Scene 7 to now roll over onto another page. Because there are NO CHANGES to Scene 8, and no changes to page 4, rather than allow the changed Scene 7 to roll over onto Page 4, instead, we insert a new page called page 3A. So the page numbering in the BLUE REVISION would go 2, 3, 3A, 4 and 5.
This allows us to keep existing WHITE page 4 and add new BLUE pages 3 and 3A. That’s page number revisions and the letter goes AFTER the proceeding page… Thus 2, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 6A, 6B, 6C, 7, 8 and so on.
Now, and here’s the issue, this is NOT the case with scene numbers. So if the writer inserts a new scene between Scene 7 and Scene 8, the new scene is it NOT called Scene 7A. If the writer inserts two scenes between Scene 7 and Scene 8 they are NOT called Scene 7A, and 7B. The Scene sequence is NOT Scene 6, 7, 7A, 7B, 8, and 9.
Why is this? Because in post production 7A is a shot from Scene 7. It is the first set-up (meaning first camera position) from shooting scene 7. Thus 7B is the second shot (or set-up) from Scene 7. 7C is the third and so on.
It is very confusing in editing if 7A is both a reference for a shot from scene 7 and a reference for a scene called 7A. Because then you’d have “Roll Camera, Scene 7A, shot 7A, Take 1” Very confusing. It’s 7A, but is it a shot or a scene?
The correct way to number A & B revision scenes is with the letter BEFORE the number. Thus, if the writer inserts a new scene between Scene 7 and Scene 8 it is correctly called A8. So in 1, 2, 3, 4, order it would look like Scene 5, 6, 7, A8, 8 and 9.
If there is a scene inserted between 7 and A8 is is called B8… Scene 5, 6, 7, B8, A8, 8 and 9.
That is the traditionally correct way to number revision scenes.
Scenes inserted between B8 and A8 follow the same structure, but using a double letter of AA, AB, AC, in reverse order Thus, Scene 5, 6, 7, B8, AC8, AB8, AA8, A8, 8 and 9.
I know this is a contentious issue (it actually is!) and I’d love to here your opinion on it!